97 posts categorized "Family Outings"

Portland Indoor Pools

February 05, 2007

Nothing like a warm pool of water to brighten up a drizzly winter day.  The urbanMamas like the Mt. Scott Indoor Pool.  Melissa asks:

When I was visiting a friend in Fort Collins with my then 5-month old baby girl last month the temperature was about 12 degrees during the day. Brrrr! My friend had a wonderful suggestion - the community pool had a warm pool that was used for scheduled physical therapy but also allowed the public to use. Babies were welcome as long as they were in swimming diapers. It was much warmer than the main pool but not hot like a jacuzzi. However there were jets at one end. My little girl had a ball! She kicked, splashed, and had a great time. This was her first time ever in a pool.

So now for my question - is there something like this in Portland? I have read great things on the UrbanMamas site about the Riverplace Athletic Club but it seems they only offer lessons and in the summer? We are just looking for a place to splash for a couple of hours on a cold winter weekend.

Ski Bunny: Her First Time

February 02, 2007

We've had several great romps up on Mt. Hood, playing in the snow tubing at Ski Bowl or snowshoeing all around.  We've finally come to the time that our six year-old is ready to hit the slopes for the first time.  We bought her skis (super-discounted at Copeland's Grand Closing!), but - now - how to begin?  Should we do a lesson?  Should we just head up the tug-rope at Meadows and take it from there?  Last year, Shetha mentioned renting skis for $5 at Meadows and using the tug-rope for free.  Is that still accurate?  The Meadows rental page seems to show that Jr. rentals are $20?  Should we head to Ski Bowl because it's smaller (and closer)?

Free kid dance party this Saturday at Powell's

January 30, 2007

Belinda and Hova, hosts of Portland's own "kid rock" radio show, Greasy Kid Stuff, are staging a dance party in the children's book area of Powell's (Burnside) this Saturday to coincide with Neal Pollack's Alternadad appearance. Sure to be a fun hour of booty-shaking with music both kids and parents will love! The dance party will run from 3-4pm, and Neal will be reading afterwards.

You can listen to Greasy Kid Stuff every Saturday morning at 8am on 94/7 Alternative Portland.

Winter Weekend Getaway

January 29, 2007

Many of us are perpetually exploring the bounty of the Pacific Northwest - its beauty and its bounty. Every season brings new and different activities, fun and breathtaking scenery. What is your favorite winter weekend getaway? Lara seeks some advice:

My brother and his pregnant wife are coming for a visit from London and we want to show them some of Oregon's winter beauty. We would love to rent a house near snow, hikes, rivers etc on the weekend of 16th and 17th Feb. I recently looked into rentals on Mt Hood and they are all either booked up or too expensive. This is our first winter in Oregon and I'm a bit lost when it comes to deciding on another place. We have 2 kids, a 3 year old and a 2 week old, so something appropriate for them is important. Does anyone have suggestions on areas or even better: an actual rental they have had a good family experience with that didn’t break the bank? I'm thinking log home, hot chocolates around a fireplace, snowy walks...

Old Salmon River Trail

December 30, 2006

j0407532.jpgOur plan was to head to the Barlow Trail or Trillium Lake for some snow play but decided to bail in Welches when mountain traffic suddenly backed up. So what to do when you aren’t quite up the mountain? We headed to one of our favorite family hikes: Old Salmon River Trail.

This trail is less than 5 miles round trip from the trailhead to a close Forest Service campground. The trail remains mostly flat for its entire length and follows the Salmon River through an ancient forest with huge Doug firs. There are plenty of places to rest along the way.

We recommend it for any time of year for a family hike and have explored it in the Spring, Summer, and Winter. This time of year the river is decked out in dramatic whitewater and the forest is a lovely mossy, green delight with frost and snow here and there.

Getting There:  Head east on Highway 26 from Portland to Welches. Take a right on Salmon River Road (just before the Subway and shortly past the Union 76 gas station, if you get to the ZigZag ranger station, you have gone a little too far). Follow Salmon River Road for about 2.7 miles. The trailhead is on the right hand side shortly past the boundary sign for the National Forest. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking.

Indoor Climbing with Kids

December 29, 2006

Milaatthecircuit Over the past few weeks, I have taken Mila to the  Portland Rock Gym  and The Circuit Bouldering Gym for her first indoor climbing experiences. I worked as a climbing guide for Outward Bound and managed my own guiding service but I was never teaching 4-year olds until now. As a way-out-of-practice crag rat, my main challenge was ensuring that I didn't pile too many expectations on the experience. Letting Mila find her comfort zone was my mantra.

Here is a summary of both Portland indoor climbing gyms based on my experience with Mila:

Portland Rock Gym: This gym is primarily wall climbing.  The routes are mostly top-roped. There is a bouldering area but children 7 years old or younger are not allowed in that area.

Cost?  Mila’s before 3 pm day pass was $7. You don’t need to purchase an adult day pass at The Circuit or Portland Rock Gym unless you will be climbing as well.

Equipment? Wall climbing requires a harness. Until age ten (or they out grow it), I recommend a full-body harness - rather than a seat harness - for young climbers.  A seat harness may not keep a very young climber secure if he or she falls upside down, which can happen more often than you think. We rented a full-body harness for the day ($3).

You have the option to rent climbing shoes but in my opinion there is no point for a child younger than 7. Mila used an old pair of Robeez.

Safety? You need to belay your child, so you must pass a belay test and know how to keep a climber safe on belay. If you don't know what that sentence means, stick with The Circuit.

Extras? The Portland Rock Gym has camps and classes for kids as well as options for birthday parties.

Overall experience? Mila scrambled up some of the bouldering walls (against the rules, I know) and really took to the whole experience EXCEPT for being on the rope. For whatever reason she would gladly scamper the the top of the wall in the bouldering area but once a rope was on her she just didn’t feel comfortable.

The Circuit Bouldering Gym: The Circuit is bouldering only. The goal of bouldering is to work on climbing technique on a boulder or small outcropping rather than on a cliff face. The point is not so much getting to the top of something but instead linking a series of moves through a “problem” - in effect you are solving the problem of how to climb a section of rock.

The Circuit is basically an artificial, indoor boulder field. Since the moves are typically on an area close to the ground, there are no ropes or harnesses involved.

Cost?  A child day pass at The Circuit is $6 and will increase to $8 on 1/1/2007 (so go there NOW!). If your child is a fan, you can cut future costs by getting a 10-punch card. Again, you don’t need to purchase an adult day pass at The Circuit or the Portland Rock Gym unless you will be climbing as well.

Equipment? Like at Portland Rock Gym you have the option to rent climbing shoes but kids can boulder in their socks or shoes. I let Mila use an old chalk bag of mine (with a Bison Ball) but this was more of cool extra for her, not at all a necessity.

Safety? You don't need to know what belay means but, although bouldering is close to the ground, don’t get lulled into thinking it is completely safe. Supervision of your little climber is still a must. It is especially important that your little one does not climb directly above or below any other climbers. Why? Because it will not be pretty if a child (or adult!) falls on your kid from any height.

Extras? Among the many features is a boulder with especially kid friendly climbs where Mila could “top-out” and then come down a slide. The Circuit also has classes, camps, and birthday party packages for kids.

Overall experience? Mila LOVED The Circuit. The best part of the day for me was that Mila did not want to leave (yes, I will endure tantrums from kids who don’t want to quit climbing!) We will be back and picked up a 10-punch card for Mila and Papa just to make sure.

The Final Word: Overall I think Portland Rock Gym is better for children with some experience/comfort with a rope system and/or older children. The Circuit is a better choice for kid's first indoor climbing experience and I could see a child graduating to wall climbing at Portland Rock Gym from there. Happy climbing!

Portland Rock Gym, 21 NE 12th Ave., Portland

The Circuit Bouldering Gym, 6050 SW Macadam Ave, Portland

Snowshoeing Away the Winter Blues

December 26, 2006



The best Portland winter getaway is to head up to  the mountains. Even on a dreary winter day, the mountain can provide the much needed respite to get rid of the winter blahs.  We aren't much of a skiing family, but we do enjoy a nice tromp in the woods a la snow shoes.  Before kids, we really enjoyed the beauty and ruggedness of the North side of the mountain where the Tilly Jane and Cooper Spur trails allowed you to trek in the woods without barely encountering many other beings of the two-legged variety. Realistically, it's not the type of trail that would endear a nearly four-year old to the joys of snowshoeing.  After much debate, and to-ing and fro-ing about where to go on the mountain, we settled on our stand by - Trillium Lake.   Trillium Lake is much more on the child-friendly side with open meadows for the entire to family to make tracks in without fear of messing up the ski trails.

Even with the little ones, you can enjoy the winter outdoors.  Here are some tips to make sure everyone (especially those that are along for the ride) stays warm and the outing more pleasurable:

  • Dress children warmly using boots, hats and mittens.  I've found that winter boots that zip up in front are the easiest to get on.  We like Kamik.
  • Layer clothing.  For the little guys,put them in a pair of warm tights to prevent skin exposure when sitting in the pack.
  • Dress children in water repellent outer clothing.
  • Make sure clothing is dry and stays dry.  The second part may be hard to do so pack extra dry mittens, socks, and hat because inevitably the first pair will get wet.  Leave an extra change of clothing in the car.
  • Limit the length of exposure.
  • Bring a thermos of hot cocoa on your outing.  Miniature marshmallows add a nice touch and an extra treat.

Any tips from the mama community on favorite winter trails?  Any additional tips you can add to ensure a safe and fun outing?

RecycledArt Kids Class December 21

December 14, 2006

There was a post about RecycledArt a while ago...Well, RecycledArt will be having a class for ages 4-6 on Thursday, December 21 that is a perfect Holiday Break activity for your little one. Here is description of the event:

Through the Looking Glass!

We will join together this holiday season to see what we can spy with our little eyes using salvaged windows from the Rebuilding Center! This 1 hour workshop will kick off with a circle time and a short story. Each artist will create a masterpiece as we talk about the values of reuse before recycling. We’ll learn how glass is made and recycled and how that glass is used to make windows. The last 10 minutes of class are reserved for our art show…a chance for artists to share their creations and tell us the story of what they saw Through the Looking Glass.

Date:  Thursday December 21
Time:  3-4pm
Ages: 4-6
Cost:  $10 per artist (includes materials)
Place:  Milagros, 5433 NE 30th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97211

The class is limited to 10 students and requires advance registration. Contact RecycledArt-ist Liesha Eberst at 503-901-9324 or makerecycledart@yahoo.com to register or for more info.

Baby Loves Disco coming to Portland

December 13, 2006

I recently got this email due to my Parent Hacks gig, but it's ideal to share here:

once a month beginning in january, portland's legendary crystal ballroom will be transformed into a child proof disco as toddlers, pre-schoolers and parents looking for a break from the routine playground circuit let loose for some post nap-time, pre-dinner fun. make no mistake, this NOT the mickey mouse club, and barney is banned. baby loves disco is an afternoon dance party featuring real music spun and mixed by real DJs blending classic disco tunes from the 70s and 80s guaranteed to get those little booties moving and grooving. the fun spills out from all corners of the club: bubble machines, baskets of instruments, a chill-out room (with tents, books and puzzles), diaper changing stations, a full spread of healthy snacks provided by Wild Oats and dancing, LOTS of dancing (and yes, the bar will be open for mommy and daddy!).

at its core, baby loves disco is a community event that brings kids together with kids and parents and parents together with parents, guaranteed to be the best time you've had at a kids event.....

venue: crystal ballroom - 1332 w. burnside street. 503.225. 0047
tickets: $12 tickets per walking human. buy tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com
time: 2-5pm (feel free to come early or late - 1 hour of baby loves disco is a lot!)
dates: sundays, january 14, february 18th, march 11th.

for more info and to learn all about baby loves disco check out:

Where's your Santa?

December 04, 2006

We've had tons of discussion lately about photography for holiday cards or gifts, but we haven't talked yet about the Big Man in Red, Mr. S. Claus. Will you do photos with him? If so, where? Liz asks:

Hello - It's my son's first holiday season & I want to do the Santa photo - any suggestions on a "good Santa" to go to?

Captain Bogg and Salty's Winter Wonder Ballroom Show this Sunday

November 30, 2006

If you're a fan of pirates, or of good kid-friendly rock, or of energy-filled live shows, don your best pair of stripy socks (or other pirate garb) and head over to Captain Bogg and Salty's Winter Wonder Ballroom show this Sunday. We saw Captain Bogg at the Portland Pirate Festival over the summer (I recount the experience here), and have been die-hard fans ever since.

Captain Bogg & Salty’s
Winter Wonder Ballroom Show
Sunday, December 3rd, 2006
1 hour, all-ages show begins at 2 PM.

Children 2 and under: FREE
Age 3 to 12: $5
Age 13 and older: $9

The Wonder Ballroom
128 NE Russell
Portland, OR 97212

Tickets available through Ticketmaster or at the Wonder Ballroom box office.

O' Christmas Tree

Into the forest we go! Alas, but where-oh-where do we get our trees? We know we can always go to Mt Hood National Forest or Gifford Pinchot Tree Cutting. More than one mama has asked, so please share. Know of a farm with a gift shop and hot cocoa? Sunny emailed:

Every year we love to go to a tree farm and hand cut our very own Christmas tree. Our favourite is the $10 permit on Mt. Hood. But we're always open for new ideas. So here is my question: Where do you go to get your Christmas tree? Any suggestions for good local tree farms, specifically one with any extra fun activities for the little ones?

Also see Tree Shopping Tips on OregonLive and on The Sandy Post.

Return to Audubon

November 26, 2006

We have a house full of people waiting for a baby to be born, which is a little stressful. So when the sun made a special guest appearance yesterday, my Pop and I took off for a hike. Not wanting to be too far from the house, we went stomping on the Wildwood Trail.

During that trek, we took a break at the Audubon Society of Portland and I spent every minute there mumbling to myself..."Why has it been a year since I brought Mila here?" Not only are there plenty of kid-friendly trails, you can view birds that have been rescued by the Society.  This menagerie includes Julio the Great Horned Owl and Finnegan the Peregrine Falcon. You will also find a natural history display and The Nature Store.

The Nature Store has plenty of educational and whimsical items for young and old alike. PLUS you can save $10 off your purchase of $30 or more if you have a CHINOOK BOOK!  To top it all off the Society has guided hikes, kid camps, and other educational activities all year round - including a performance by children’s musician David Hall on December 9 at 1:30 pm.

One of my New Year resolutions will be to get my family there more often (this joins Tryon Creek State Park  on an always expanding list), I hope to see you there:

Audubon Society of Portland
5151 NW Cornell Road, Portland OR 97210
Off-street Parking on site

*Another option is to park at Macleay Park and hike the Lower Macleay Trail to the Wildwood Trail (the junction is at the Stone House, continue straight at that point - don't go up the hill). The trail stays level as it follows Balch Creek and briefly heads uphill before reaching a parking lot. Head west 1/10 mile from the parking lot to the Audubon Center. This scenic hike is approximately 1 1/2 miles each way and is definitely kid-friendly.

Time for Oregon Wineries

November 15, 2006

This week's FOODday gives us a complete rundown of Oregon Wineries.  Many of them are open this upcoming weekend (Nov 17-19) and even more of them are open Thanksgiving weekend, with plenty of cheese, truffles, barrel tastings, etched glasses (ooh! Riedel!), and ... of course ... pour after pour of wine.  Some wineries offer free tastings; some of them cost a Benjamin.

Last year, we met up with an urbanFamily or two at a couple of spots.  At Bergstrom, we enjoyed plenty of room in the barrel area, a cheese-fruit-n-cracker spread, a wide selection of tastes, and a take-away crystal glass.  Of course, all of that did cost us $20 a taste (which I shared with my spouse).  But, the girls were comfortable.  There were plenty of crackers and enough room for small spurts of chasing or playing.  They even got down on the ground to color, and they didn't even get trampled.

Our only other spot was Lemelson.  The vineyard was oh-so lovely, but tasting area there was pretty cramped.  They do have a great patio area with a wood-burning stove, so we ended up taking turns in the narrow tasting area while a few others held back playing with the girls outside.  It worked out just fine and kept us from taking one-too-many tastes.

One key ingredient for fun, especially when bringing the kids to a potentially crowded scene, is to time it right.  Most spots open at 11 AM, and it's best to head out just around that time.  Last year, we were pdx-bound by 4 PM.   Traffic was backing up, and driveways into the vineyards were long and swarmy.

The winery weekends are once again upon us, will any of you head out to the Valley?  Any suggestions for those of us who are determined to brave the wineries with kids in tow?

Family Night at Dishman

November 12, 2006

Matt Dishman Community Center (along with Peninsula Community Center) is hosting a family night on November 17th - El Carnaval del Caribe (Caribbean Carnival).  Salute Caribbean culture with snacks from Pambiche (YUM), crafts, face painting, carnival games, free family swim, raffle prizes.  Friday Family Fun!  Admission is free with 2 cans of food per person (or 6 cans for the family) or $1 per person (or $3 per family).  Carnival tickets are 4 for $1.  Event is at Matt Dishman, November 17, from 6 to 8 PM.

Tapestry of Tales Festival

November 07, 2006

We failed to share this information before the festival kicked off last weekend.  No fear, there is still plenty more storytelling this weekend!  This is the seventh year of this family storytelling festival, hosted by Multnomah County Library:

Children learn some of their most important reading lessons at the dinner table. These rich opportunities help children develop and practice their oral-language skills in interesting ways. They also acquire new vocabulary as adults around the table use more sophisticated and unusual words to communicate images and information about other times and places. 

This year in addition to the many public performances, the festival's outreach programs will bring stories to over 5000 elementary and middle school students throughout the county. There will also be a workshop to help county SUN School program coordinators learn to incorporate stories and storytelling into their after-school programs.

Check out the calendar for upcoming festival events now through November 18.  Also check out "other storytelling events" for upcoming storytelling (Tuesday Nov 7, Saturday Nov 11, Sunday Nov 12).


October 25, 2006

I wasn't even paying attention to the radio when OPB announced its incentives for its current membership drive. Philly, however, was tugging the heck out of my sleeve. "Mama! Mama!" She had heard it there first. And, she was so ready and excited to go: the Mary Poppins Sing-Along. The event runs a WHOLE WEEK, from November 3 to 9 at 7pm at Cinema 21. Extra matinees on November 11 and 12 for the wee ones. I'm already planning our costumery. We need to make a trip to the Goodwill to find our get-ups. I still have to decide if I'm going as Mary Poppins or Winifred...

Search for the Great Pumpkin

October 13, 2006

This is the weekend each year when we usually trek out and do the whole pumpkin patch/corn maze/hay maze/cider drinking tradition. We used to just go to the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island but after it started getting way too crowded for us and we started having bad luck with finding decent pumpkins, we have since branched out...and we are very glad we have.  The past few years we've found some great farms that are worth a little bit of a drive. The owners are awesome and they've got great fresh produce in addition to all of the pumpkin fun.

Lee Farms
21975 SW 65th Avenue
Tualatin, OR
Hours: 9-6 daily in October
Fun features: pumpkin patch, hay rides, pony rides, petting zoo, hay maze, cider and donuts (yum).

Baggenstos Farms
15801 Roy Rogers Road
Sherwood, OR
Hours: M - TH 9-6, F & Sat 9-10, Sun 10-5
Fun features: Sweet pumpkin patch, hay ride, 5-acre corn maze, great playground for kids, petting zoo, hay maze, pumpkin bowling (yes, pumpkin bowling), and lots of great local fresh produce.

And since it is still a great place for families...
The Pumpkin Patch at Sauvie Island
16511 NW Gillihan Road
Hours: 9-6
Fun features: big pumpkin patch, hay rides, corn and hay mazes, patio cafe, animal barn and fresh produce.

Salmon Fest at Oxbow 10/14 - 15

October 06, 2006

Dsc_6976The annual Salmon Festival at Oxbow Regional Park is October 14 - 15.  This special weekend event celebrates the return of wild salmon from the Pacific Ocean to the Sandy River and promises a variety of fun and educational activities for the entire family from 10:30 am - 5 pm each day.

Planned activities include interactive cultural exhibits, arts and crafts demonstrations, music and storytelling, horse-drawn wagon rides, a salmon barbecue and a food court. The event will be  "NW weather-ready"  – entertainment, exhibits, children’s activities and food areas will be under cover. The entry fee is only $8 per vehicle - so load up your car or van!

Getting There: From I-84, take the Troutdale exit (17). Go past the truck stop to the light. Turn right on 257th, go 3 miles to Division Street. Turn left onto Division. Follow the signs 6.5 miles and turn left. Follow the road to the park.

No pets are allowed at Oxbox or any Metro park.

Zenana Grand Opening Party: Don't Miss It

September 27, 2006

Zenana-Spa is throwing a Grand Opening party and inviting mamas, families, and everyone to come check out what they are offering at the spa.  Who can say no to a FREE mini treatment right (mini spa facials, hand and foot massages and chair massages)? And snacks from Vindalho?   Who can resist? Their focus is on pregnant and nursing women, parenting families, new mamas and mamas in general.  It's the place to be on Saturday, September 30th from 4 to 7 pm!

See the swifts before they head south

September 26, 2006

We went to see the Vaux's swifts twirl into the Chapman Elementary School chimney tonight. What a marvel! As you may already know, the swifts return each year to roost at Chapman on their way south for the winter. I had no idea that this is the largest known roost of migrating swifts in the world.

Wednesday night, 9/27, is the last night of the Audubon Society Swift Watch, so take advantage of the warm evening, bring a picnic and a blanket, and join the companionable crowd on the Chapman lawn. The swifts head in for the night at sunset, so get there by 7pm (NW 27th Avenue and Pettygrove). It's the best free show I've seen in a long time.

It's time for apples

First there were blueberries. Now there are apples. A couple of weeks ago, we started along the Hood River Fruit Loop. Our first stop was at Rasmussen Farms where we were disapointed to not find U-pick options. What was fun, however, was the music, the corn maze, the U-pick tomatoes, and the huge variety of already-picked pears and apples. We ended up at Draper's Farm where we were given a bucket which we could fill with U-pick pears (d'anjou or bartlett) or apples (gala) for ten dollars. When we returned with our carefully-packed bucket, we clocked in at 32 pounds. It was a pretty great family scene, and we carefully let the girls climb the ladder to pick some higher fruit. There were plenty of families there to enjoy the picking. Lucky for all of us, we still have several weeks in the apple season, ripe for the pickin'.

Where have you found success for apple picking? Sarah has asked us:

I'm looking for recommendations on good places for u-pick apples that I can take the baby... any thoughts?

Crafty Sundays at Contemporary Crafts Museum

September 20, 2006

Yet another great suggestion from an urbanMama, Sharai:

Hi Urbanmamas! I was searching online for arts & crafts experiences for my 6 year old son, and discovered the Contemporary Crafts Museum, which I've always meant to visit. Looks like they have a cool (and free) Family Discovery Sundays program once a month (next one is THIS Sunday), and also kids day camps on school holidays (camps are fee-based).  Admission to the Museum is always free.

Rainy Monday Outings

September 18, 2006

Perhaps I am the only mama in town oblivious to the fact that the old standby rainy day attractions (OMSI and the Children's Museum) are closed every Monday.  And so here it is, our first rainy Monday and our typical outings (e.g., playgrounds, OMSI, Zoo, and Children's Museum) are out of the picture.  Since I switched from having my schedule to Mondays off of work, this has not been a problem.  But in the winter months, without access to our beloved OMSI on my day off.  What's a mama and her two active boys to do?

Green Sprouts Organic Baby & Family Festival - Sept 23

September 17, 2006

Don't miss what sounds to be a great organic baby and family festival!  If your new to town, this might be a great way to familiarize yourself with local baby and children resources in addition to a good opportunity to connect and meet other parents:

Green Sprouts is a festive and educational one-day event for the whole family that celebrates and promotes the nurturing of life through nature. From pregnancy to early childhood, parents can learn about and explore eco-friendly, community-involved, natural, and healthy options to raising their families. The event will include a broad range of seminars from pregnancy and birth options to naturopathic pediatrics to creating healthy home environments and more. There will also be guided stroller and nature walks and plenty of live music and entertainment.

The event will be held on September 23 - 11 AM to 6 PM - at the World Forestry Center in Washington Park. Admission is a suggested $3 donation to benefit the Oregon Environmental Council's Tiny Footprints Program. Kids are free. For more information please visit http://www.GreenSproutsFest.com.

Fun for the Whole Swashbuckling Family!

August 29, 2006

Lynx Ahoy mateys! It is not too early to mark your calendars in ink for a pirate festival fit for the whole family. The Portland Pirate Festival brings a cargo-load of music, flair, and fun to scenic Cathedral Park on September 23. Among the many activities, the event will feature performances by Captain Bogg & Salty and other groups, pirate re-enactments, a pirate play village, and - most impressively - a replica of a "privateer ship:"  The Lynx.

Don't be afraid to come in costume!

ice cream social on mississippi

August 22, 2006

Sugar Star clued me into the N Mississippi Ice Cream social. It's tonight, yes, Tuesday August 22, from 6-7 p.m. I'm planning to trek up by bike if only I can get my favorite urbanPapa to patch our bike trailer's injured tire... evidently, there is ice cream and frozen treats at all of the businesses up and down N Mississippi. Sounds like the best possible thing to be doing on a hot August evening!

Lessons from my somewhat unsuccessful morning outing

It's a lovely, late-summer day in our fair city. What could I possibly be complaining about?

1. The Science Playground at OMSI (read: location of sandbox that allows mamas to chat while their 3 year-olds occupy themselves) is closed. [Possibly only for a day, so call first if you're intending to visit. 503.797.4000] My well-planned outing with a friend that involved sending our older children to the free movie with Dad so we could take the younger children to the OMSI kiddie area was foiled. We spent an unsatisfying 45 minutes consoling ourselves with water rockets and the ball room, and the kids put a brave face on it, but uninterrupted adult conversation was out of the question.

2. We decided toys, caffeine and sugar would improve our prospects, so we headed over the Broadway Bridge to Sip and Krantz (thank you, uM, for the recommendation). Lots of construction going on there, so after driving around in circles a few times, I finally parked on NW Johnson on the south side of the fountain. I dutifully payed for my spot, and we were off. Lovely cafe, but we ran headlong into the lunchtime sleepies, so our kids, who were still pining for the sandbox, alternated between brain-dead and yelling. Uninterrupted adult conversation was out of the question.

3. We headed back to the car, and I spied an ominous looking yellow envelope tucked beneath my windshield wiper. A $50 ticket! But I paid for my parking, and it wasn't yet expired! Turns out one is supposed back in to those spots -- does everyone realize this? Only after I stopped cursing did I notice the small white and green sign which says as much. Never saw it before. Grrr.

Sigh. I'm home now, my son is playing at the neighbors, and my daughter is asleep. And my friend and I did get to catch up, albeit in fits and starts. All is well. But at least I can share my woes with you so you can avoid the same pitfalls.

U Pick Blueberries: Where It's At

August 21, 2006

Blueberries_11 I have about 100 favorite things to do in Portland in the summertime, and picking blueberries certainly tops the list.  A few weeks ago, when I grew weary of paying $3.99 for a pint of blueberries at our much-loved, but oftentimes overpriced grocer, I packed up the kids and met some friends out at Sauvie Island Farms.  Certainly not my favorite place to pick, but I was desperate to build up a good supply of berries to keep my voracious blueberry hounds at bay.  My boys were blowing the budget with their ravenous appetite for what is arguably the world's most perfect fruit.  Twenty miles from Portland, Sauvie Island is not a bad drive especially if you're planning to make a day out of it, and if you are planning to pick up other produce besides blueberries.  However, I find that the Sauvie Island Farm blueberry shrubs are stockier than at other locations, and that there was a lot of kneeling required.  Kneeling is a pain when you've got a 20 plus infant strapped to your back.  I also find that because of the popularity of Sauvie Island and being fairly late in the season, the crop was sparse.  Despite these conditions, we walked away with 17 pounds of blueberries combined between the two families.  Granted, I accompanied the most determined and focused berry picker who singly plucked the majority of the fruit from our outing.  Don't let the fact that she can be seen in the cool weather stomping around town in her totally hip red boots fool you. 

After my boys completely devoured our supply of blueberries in about a week, I knew I had to visit the old standby, Armstrong's Blueberries (in outer SE) to replenish our supply.  Armstrong's in located in the most unlikely of places, tucked away near some new developments on the edge of Portland.  What it lacks for pizazz, it makes up for in berry appeal!  In my opinion, the blueberries are much tastier, and the fruit easier to pick.  It's a small operation which appears to be a labor of love.  At $.80 a pound, it's about half the price of the Sauvie Island Farms and half the distance (even better yet).  Even in late August, there was plenty of fruit left to be picked.  They are not open every day of the week, and sometimes they remain closed to allow the trees to regrow.  You know you're also dealing with some honest folks when they subtract the weight of your container from the total cost of the berries.  Be sure to weigh your containers prior to picking.  Lastly, fill out a postcard and they will send it to you next year when the crop is ready.  Armstrong's Blueberries is located at: 17522 SE McKinley Rd.  Call ahead to see if they are open:  (503) 667-0348.  And if it's too late this year, there's always next year.  Where's your favorite place to pick?  Anything the urbanFamily needs to know before venturing out for a berry-fun (sorry the pun) time?

Dive-in Movies

As summer winds down to a close, a fun way to commemorate all the good times at the pool in the past several weeks is to go to a Dive-in Movie. The movie this year is "Madagascar". Showtimes are 8 PM and schedule is:
8/23 (Wed) at Montavilla Pool
8/24 (Thu) at Creston Pool
8/25 (Fri) at Grant Pool
8/26 (Sat) at Wilson Pool
8/27 (Sun) at Sellwood Pool

Advice Needed for the Long Road Trip

August 20, 2006

Leah sent us this question a while back.  Our apologies for not being expedient with our posting.  We're certain that the urbanMamas (and Papas of course) will have some advice for "road tripping" with the little ones:

We've got an 11-12 hour road trip coming up and I'm not completely sure how we'll survive it trying to keep a very busy toddler content in a car seat for so long... We're planning on trying to get 4-5 hours of driving out of the way on Friday night, but that will still leave us with 6+ hours on Saturday that we'll need to get through...any advice from the mamas on keeping him busy? I'm starting to stock up on some new books and stickers that I hope he'll be excited about...any other tried and true tricks out there? A new friend passed along a great homemade "trip toy" that I think he's going to love that some other mamas might be interested in making for road trips...You get a small plaque of wood (maybe 8inches square or so) and cover it with the soft side of Velcro tape and then get different kinds of blocks and put a little strip of each Velcro on them so that the kids can build things in the car without the blocks falling all over, it's pretty cute!

Concert tonight at Kruger's Farm, Sauvie Island

August 17, 2006

Have you been to Kruger's Farm Market on Sauvie Island?  In addition to delicious edibles, they offer a fun roster of summer lawn concerts, held each Thursday evening on the farm grounds. There are only three more weeks of concerts left, so if you're looking for an activity tonight, consider heading to Sauvie Island for Trashcan Joe (see http://www.trashcanjoe.com/ for more info about the band). The farm concerts are a pleasant outing for the whole family, and you can do your produce shopping too! Fresh fruits and vegetables abound, better and more reasonably priced than your local grocery store's. And the bite-size still-hot homemade doughnuts? Don't forget to try that crack.

Concerts run from 6-9pm and cost $5 per car.

Kruger's Farm is located at 17100 NW Sauvie Island Road. To get here, head out route 30 toward St. Helens and follow the signs to Sauvie Island. When you get to Sauvie, cross the bridge to the island and continue straight on Sauvie Island Rd. Kruger's is 1 1/2 miles ahead on the right.

Get on Your Bike And Ride! (with the kids, of course . . .)

July 26, 2006

Portland, being the generally bike-friendly city that it is, has an amazing number of cyclists hitting the road with kids in tow.  Being left without a car and not having a bike meant getting around on Tri-met for about 6 months, but then the days got nicer and I started dreaming of feeling the wind in my hair.  Oh yeah, and our daughter was finally big enough to don a helmet and sit up straight for long stretches of time!  As she neared that 1-year milestone Jeremy and I got anxious to get on our bikes so I started looking around in earnest for a bike for myself and a way to haul our little bundle of joy. 

I ended up deciding on a hybrid bike (not a road or a mountain bike, but something with features of both) because sitting higher up makes it easier for me to glance behind and keep an eye on baby.  I'm sure I'll get comments from at least one hardcore road bike enthusiast who loves her steed, but after test riding lots of bikes over a few weeks I went with a KHS and have been more than satisfied.  A smooth ride for not a terrible lot of money.

As far as child-carrying devices go, there's a whole slew of options to choose from.  I grew up riding in a rear-mounted child seat on my mom's bike, as I'm sure many of you did, and there are still plenty of people using those.  They're nice because the child is close to you, but the main disadvantages are that the height make your center of gravity go way up, which can mean it's harder to maneuver at slow speeds, and in the (unthinkable) event of an accident, your baby will fall from a considerable height. 

An interesting variation on the rear-mounted bike is the front-mounted version, which is, apparently, quite popular in Europe.  I saw one on Woodstock the other day, so I'm sure they'll soon start popping up all over the place.  The advantages are that you can keep an eye on your child at all times, and in turn, they get to check out the view.  If you fall, chances are that you'll be able to cushion the impact for them, since they sit perched between your legs.  The down sides seems to be that the seats might interfere with long-legged parents' ability to pedal comfortably, and that the shorter people among us might have trouble seeing over and around baby's helmeted head.  A few different designs include the Safe-T-Seat, and the Bike Tutor.  Have you used one?  How do you like it?

After some discussion we decided to go with a bike trailer.  There seems to be consensus that they're the safest way to carry kids, since they're designed not to flip even if you and your bike do.  Plus, the better ones have roll bars and 5-point harnesses for the off chance that your little one goes for an unexpected spin.  Oh yeah, we also wanted one with a screen small enough to avoid spraying baby with road grit, as well as a sun shade so she wouldn't bake in the heat.  One of our other considerations, besides safety, was that, without a car, we'd need to pick up groceries, etc. while on our bikes.  Our trailer is rated to carry up to 100 lbs.  As it turns out, it also came in really handy when Jeremy was teaching a cooking class at a school in Gresham.  He would bike the Springwater Corridor to the Fred Meyer closest to the school, load up groceries for 15 kids, (they each received a grocery bag full of stuff to be able to try the recipes at home) and then ride to his class.  Keep in mind, he was doing this in the middle of winter.  So yeah, our Burley trailer is a champ. 

To choose a trailer we did a lot of research and essentially everyone said the same thing:  Burley's are the best.  Of course, they also happen to be three or four times as expensive as the kind you can pick up at Toys R Us.  We lucked out and had a couple relatives chip in to buy it for us as a (very generous) gift.  You can also find them used on craigslist or eBay since they're built to last a lifetime (though, of course the warranty is non-transferable).  We also decided to go for the model that can hold two kids, even though we're not exactly planning another yet, and now it means that I can go out biking with other mamas and carry one other kid. 

When I wrote about Tri-Met there were quite a few of you that commented about how much more complicated reality gets when you have more than one child.  If your kids are a little bigger, yet can't handle a long ride, I really like the Adams Trail-a-Bike option.  It's like a tandem attachment for an adult bike, but it's designed so that the child (age 4-7) can stop pedaling whenever s/he wants and just enjoy the ride.  If you buy this product second-hand keep in mind that there was a recall issued in October 2004 and you should make sure the bike comes with the appropriate new parts.   

Finally, here comes the probably unnecessary reminder that kids under age 12 are all required to wear helmets, regardless of the method of bike travel you choose.  Unfortunately, I've yet to find a helmet that goes on easily on a squirmy toddler.  Maya loathes having her helmet on.  She likes playing with it, she loves pointing out when other people are wearing "hats", but she shrieks cries of terror every third time we put it on her.  Granted, this seems to coincide with return trips when she's already tired and cranky, but it drives me nuts.  Why can't they design a helmet with the latch on the side of the child's face?  Babies and toddlers often have cute little double chins and pudgy necks that can easily get caught in their so-called PinchGuard (tm) fasteners.   Seriously, I'm going to start working on my own design and sell it to Bell or Giro for a million dollars some day.  If anyone has a solution, please, please let me know! 

In spite of helmet trauma, Maya has really been enjoying the bike outings we've taken.    After one particularly grueling ride across town and up Terwilliger I nixed any all day outings until baby is a bit older, but she will literally coo and whee! all around SE Portland--until she conks out, that is.   It's a rare ride where she doesn't decide to nap until we reach our destination.   Must be all that fresh air. 

PS- One big recommendation I have is for everyone to check out the Metro bike maps available for $6 at most bike shops or online here.  Also, the folks at ByCycle have a good tool to help you plan your routes.  Yay!

Old McDonald Had a Farm (and a Band)

July 24, 2006

An urbanMama's favorite, Kruger's Farm Market recently kicked off their summer concert series this July.  Thanks to tipster Kym for reminding us of the plethora of family events offered.  Admission is $5 per car, and unlike the Portland Park concerts, outside alcohol is NOT allowed. Concerts are 6 pm to 9 pm. There is still time to catch some tunes in the event you missed the first three:

  • July 27 -- Foghorn Stringband
  • August 3 -- Ashleigh Flynn & Sneakin' Out
  • August 10 -- The New Iberians
  • August 17 -- Trashcan Joe
  • August 24 -- Bill Rhoades and the Party Kings
  • August 31 -- The Buckles

Beat the Heat

July 20, 2006

This weekend is an especially good weekend to beat the heat by hitting the coast.  We always end up at Cannon Beach for the day: it's just about 1 hour and fifteen minutes from here, there is plenty to do on the main drag if we ever get tired of just lounging on the beach (god forbid!), and there is that pizza place just by the beach entree where we always pick up snacks.  We typically leave around 11am, which is just around the time that our 2-1/2 year old Tati is getting ready for naptime.  She snoozes on the way out while we sing songs or play games with our 5-1/2 year old Philly.  By the time we get there, everyone's ready for some beach fun.

We have also rented a 4-bedroom house in the springtime in Manzanita, and it was heaven!  We shared it with a few other urbanFamilies, so there were 4 families playing and hanging out for the weekend.  It's a great time, to rent a beach house with other families.  You can have a complete run of the place; it's pretty liberating.

Liz is looking for more ideas:

I am planning a long weekend at the coast and am wondering if anyone has recommendations on a place to stay that is kid friendly. I have a 3 yr old and 6 mos. old. It could be a hotel, b&b or vacation house. Also any fun ideas of things to do?

Family Bike Ride: The Gear

July 19, 2006

Bike_with_tagalongNow that we're well into summer, we're hopping on the bikes pretty often.  The sunny and not-to-warm days are perfect for riding into the sunset.  Thought I'd just share a few things that have worked for our pedaling family of four.

I've shared before about our riding around with our bike trailer (and which one we bought, at that).  Last year, our great addition was our tag-along, the Adams Trail-a-Bike.  We decided to get one when Philly was about 4 years old, and when she was getting awfully heavy to ride in the trailer with her sister.  Plus, she had already been on her two-wheeler with training wheels for several months, and she was getting good at the pedaling.  After testing out a couple of tag-alongs, we decided on the tag-along that: (a) folds and (b) has 5 gears.  (we felt lucky to have found what we needed on craigslist.)  The fold-up aspect comes in handy when we go on a trip, we can fold it up so easily and put it in the trunk.  We first tried the non-folding tag-along, and it was a bear to fit into the car!  Bikecaravan2 The gear-shifting is wonderful when we hit higher speeds.  WIth the fixed-gear tag-along, when we were cruising along, Philly would stop pedaling at some point because the gear was much too low.  She couldn't keep up.  Now, with the gears, she can even share in some of the work.

When we're both riding around with the girls, one of us pulls the tag-along and one of us pulls the trailer.  Sometimes, when we are riding solo, we have attempted the caravan: daddy pulling the tag-along pulling the trailer...

I guess a couple of my biggest tips for pedaling around town are:

Map it out.  It's good to know where you're going.  We have great bike maps of the CIty and even touring around Oregon.  There are routes with bike lanes, no-car paths, low-traffic streets, then high-traffic, super scary streets.  When you have the kidlets in tow, it's good to make sure you avoid those high-traffic, no-bike-lane streets.  We've once mapped poorly and we ended up with the kids on a major, major two lane, higher-speed thoroughfare .  Man, was it scary!  Here is a complete list of maps.

Underestimate.  I have a tendency to think we can go that extra mile with the kids, thinking we can do the full 10-bridge/36-mile Bridge Pedal without incident.  Easy does it, slow going, safety first.  I like to put a small radio/CD player in the trailer with Tati so she can play her favorite music for us and everyone we pass by.  If there are prolonged complaints or discomforts, we have learned to stop and take breaks!  It's all supposed to be a fun and healthful time.

A tale of international travel with toddler in tow

July 07, 2006

Ethanairport_smFor anyone out there holding back from traveling overseas because of kids, I say GO! Go today! Book your tickets because the experience is well worth it. My husband, 25-month-old son and I just returned from a trip overseas. We are all alive to tell the tales, and the tales aren't nearly as bad as they could have been or as I was told they might be.

We started out with a quick three and a half hour flight to Dallas. No problem there. Our son was lovely and charming. Then we had a three-hour layover that turned into a six-hour layover which included boarding our plane, hanging out for about half an hour in our seats, and then deplaning and waiting for a new plane because ours had some sort of leak. Greaaaat. Our angel turned into Tantrum Boy while we were waiting but at least we were in the airport where we could move around and annoy different people instead of the same ones continuously. A lovely woman came over and gave him the happy meal toy that her daughter did not want. It was a car! Hooray for kind strangers. We finally boarded the plane and continued on our 10-hour flight to Zurich. For nine and a half hours, our little Boo was the perfect traveler, never leaving his seat, playing happily or sleeping. Then as we started to land, he decided he had had it. He screamed for about 15 minutes. I am sure our fellow passengers only remember the last 15 minutes and not the first nine and a half peaceful hours of the flight.

He took to the time change with no problem at all, sleeping and napping at what would be his normal times back home. He loved taking the trains from place to place, the lake, the kids who ran around him speaking different languages. He was a great little explorer and it was amazing to watch him experience new things in new places. He even started repeating some of the words back in Swiss German. We didn't go on as many long day trips to other countries or other parts of Switzerland as we would have had it been just my husband and I traveling, but we got to do so many other cool things we wouldn't have done without him being there with us.

Our flight back home was longer - 11 hours for the first leg of the trip, 4 hours for the last leg - and he was once again an angel for the entire first leg of the trip (11 hours!! We got lots of "I had no idea there was a baby there!" and "What a good traveler your son is!"). But then on the shorter 4 hour flight home, he had a tired little cry right as we started to walk off the plane. I must have looked like I was going to cry because a nice gentleman stopped and commented how great he was on the flight from Zurich since he had been seated near us on that flight. I am very thankful for kind fellow travelers.

What worked for us: getting our son his own seat, waiting to board until the last group is called, LOTS of new toys separated by type in large ziplock bags, books (the slim preschool-age reading books are perfect: light enough to pack a dozen of them), stickers, stickers, stickers (we got the slim books that had 500+ each in them), lots of DVDs and a DVD player that has a four-hour battery and not the short two-hour battery, lucking out by having a six-year-old girl sit behind him on the Dallas-to-Zurich flight who made him laugh and played peek-a-boo, lots of snacks (thank you, fruit leather!), water (they only came by twice on the long flights - wassup with that?), having the flight attendants refill his milk cup, pillows, our Combi Savvy Soho stroller (so easy to fold up and carry and to open) and just going with the flow while we were there and not forcing an itinerary when it didn't seem like something he would be up for. 

He was a lot easier to fly with as a baby on a quick flight to NYC, but we are glad that we took him on this adventure at this age. I love that he talks about some of the places we went, and things or people we saw. For us, the long 20-hour days of traveling were totally worth it. So take your toddlers overseas - I hope you all have a wonderful experience as we did!

Diversions for the Drive

June 26, 2006

Summer is here and we imagine that lots of us will do at least one road-trip this summer.  Can you suggest some activities fro a long drive?  Leah writes:

We've got an 11-12 hour road trip coming up and I'm not completely sure how we'll survive it trying to keep a very busy toddler content in a car seat for so long... We're planning on trying to get 4-5 hours of driving out of the way on Friday night, but that will still leave us with 6+ hours on Saturday that we'll need to get through...any advice from the mamas on keeping him busy? I'm starting to stock up on some new books and stickers that I hope he'll be excited about...any other tried and true tricks out there? A new friend passed along a great homemade "trip toy" that I think he's going to love that some other mamas might be interested in making for road trips...You get a small plaque of wood (maybe 8inches square or so) and cover it with the soft side of velcro tape and then get different kinds of blocks and put a little strip of each velcro on them so that the kids can build things in the car without the blocks falling all over, it's pretty cute!
We've done our fair share of driving: driving from NYC to Atlanta when Philly was 2; driving from Atlanta to Portland when Philly was 3; then just recently driving the 10-hr drive Portland to the Bay Area.  Some of our tips include:

Maximize the nap.  If your babe still naps and can nap in the car, drive the heck out of that nap.  On a good stretch, we've gone as much as 3 hours (even if she didn't normally take that long of a nap).  On other stretches, we've gone as little as an hour before waking up.  Be sure to pee and eat before the nap, so you can drive and drive and drive until that babe wakes up.  During one such nap-maximizer stretch, my husband had to pee so badly and I begged him not to stop until our little one woke up.  He was not a happy camper or a happy driver.

Movies.  We bring our laptop, the favorite selections of movies, and our car adapter thingy that converts your lighter into a normal electrical outlet.

Songs, Songs, and more songs.  My husband downloads all their favorite kids songs and makes them their own CDs.  They love the customized play lists.  Also, they love all Laurie Berkner albums and we can sing the whole way to our destination.  Philly and I sang all 4 hours to the Grand Canyon when we drove from Phoenix...

Lacing cards, sewing ball.  These are some self-contained activities that have been successful.  Activities that don't have loose pieces that will drop into carseat crevices, playboards with plenty to touch and do (like the buckle/strap playboard).

Look outside and enjoy!  We have made the mistake a few times before of packing the car so full that the girls can hardly see outside.  Or, we have draped our jackets over our seatbacks, preventing the girls from seeing all the way through to the road.  This has made them sick, resulting in having to stop, wash up, change clothes, rinse mouth.  Best to always make sure that the little ones can see where you're going so their poor little tummies don't get confused.

your favorite HOT spot

Wow it's been HOT!  Oh my goodness.  We hope you've been keeping it cool, in whatever way possible.  Care to share your favorite haunts when the going gets HOT?  Here are some of ours:

OMSI: It's air-conditioned and kids of all ages find plenty to explore here.  Beat the heat with the BOTs (til Sept 4, feature exhibit is 'Robots & Us').

Jamison Square:  By now, JS has become a summer fave for lots of mamas and papas.  Endless fun to be had as the square fills, drains, then fills again.  Though one mama was there today and - to her dismay - the square filled and stayed filled all afternoon.  No drainage?  Sharing sunscreen in the water doesn't sound too appealing.  Other non-appealing things at Jamison Square: no pottys (new this year are 2 honey buckets near the EcoTrust bldg), small trees (if it's 90-100 degrees out, we want shade, shade, shade!), and limited parking (take the MAX, streetcar, bus!).

Fountains at SW Market and SW 2nd:  So, we haven't officially romped here yet, but it seems like an awesome spot for the older set (maybe kids 4 and up).  It's much like Jamison, but has much more height and much, much more shade.  It comes recommended by an urbanPapa who works nearby, and it looks like a great place to sit in the shade and watch the kids splash around.

Your local wading pool:  For reference, we've linked to the list of Wading Pools on PortlandParks.org.  Today, a few of us convened at Kenilworth Park, where Sarah is a wading pool volunteer.  Sarah can share more about how to be a volunteer, the required orientation, and what you need to do each time you open and close the wading pool.  Kenilworth was awesome, just the right amount of wading, plenty of mature trees for shade, and a bite-sized play structure immediately adjacent.  Other true and tried splash spots near us include Overlook Park and Peninsula Park.  Both have wading pools.

New Seasons: We found ourselves at the market just to keep cool.  We read a few magazines, sat at the eat-in area, ate some cold snacks, and drinking up as much coolness as we could before stepping outside again...

Regal Free Family Film Festival

June 14, 2006

Thanks to Jennifer for providing us with the heads up on this:

Oregon Gymnastics Academy will sponsor the Regal Free Family Film Festival this summer.  Free select G & PG movies at Bridgeport 18, Tigard 11, Sherwood, Lloyd Mall, Hilltop 9, Movies on TV and Stark Street every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. starting June 20, 2006.  Kid's Meals are available.  Seating is limited to capacity.  First come, first served.  Please visit to http://www.regmovies.com for more information.  Be sure to stop by the OGA Table at Regal Movies On TV Stadium 16 for a Free Gymnastics Poster while supplies last.

Regal Movies on TV Stadium 16 Film Schedule 2929 SW 234th Avenue in Hillsboro, (503) 225-5555

June 20 & 21, 2006
Rugrats: The Movie (G)
Madagascar (PG)

June 27 & 28, 2006
Jimmy Neutron (G) Nanny McPhee (PG)

July 4 & 5, 2006
Rugrats In Paris (G)
Hoodwinked (PG)

July 11 & 12, 2006
Wallace & Gromet (G)
Aquamarine (PG)

July 18 & 19, 2006
March of the Penguins (G)
Cheaper By the Dozen 2 (PG)

July 25 & 26, 2006
Charlotte's Web (G) Spongebob Squarepants (PG)

August 1 & 2, 2006

Curious George (G)
Robots (PG)

August 8 & 9, 2006
Jonah: Veggie Tale Movie (G)
Zathura (PG)

August 15 & 16, 2006
Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron (G)
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (PG)

August 22 & 23, 2006
Clifford's Really Big Movie (G)
Yours, Mine and Ours (PG)

Sauvie Island

June 13, 2006

Thanks to Tony for this wonderful and detailed description of Sauvie Island.  We couldn't have written it better ourselves.

Summer is a great time to explore Sauvie Island.  The Sauvie Island Wildlife Area boasts more than 12,000 acres of land, so a variety of outdoor activities may be enjoyed. Much of the island that is not preserved for wildlife consists of family farms, many of which open their doors to the public for produce and special activities. Basically there is no shortage of family-friendly activities on the island and its proximity to Portland  - 20 to 30 minutes - ensures limited "are we there yet?" moments in the car.Farm Fun:  Berry season has begun and there is no shortage u-pick berry options on the island.  Right now strawberries are abundant but raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry picking will all come into season during the summer.  Kruger's Farm is perhaps the most visible and well known of the local farms.

We picked strawberries at Kruger's this weekend. There was no shortage of strawberries when we arrived even though 1-ton of berries had already been sold that day! Kruger's provides the option of taking a FREE tractor-driven hayride out to its strawberry fields. They are hosting a special Berry Jam with music and more on Father's Day weekend and they begin their outdoor Thursday night concert series ($5 per car) on July 6th.

Paddling: The obvious padding idea is floating on either Multnomah Channel or the Columbia River  - the waters which border the island.  However both of those options have lots of boat traffic  - including barges and container ships on the Columbia - so I only recommend them for experienced paddlers. A great family paddling option is Sturgeon Lake.

Sturgeon Lake is located on the northern end of the island. It also connects with Steelman Lake and Mud Lake, so you can easily spend all day exploring on the water if you would like to.  Right now the water is high so there is no need to worry about tides but when the water lowers later in the summer, try to avoid low tide since you can find yourself stranded in the mud flats near shore. Motor boats are allowed on the lake but are very rare encounters - speeds are low and wakes are minimal.

On a clear day you can enjoy views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens on the lake. Seeing fish jump, herons, and falcons is common. There is no significant current on the lake but paddling on windy days is not recommended. Remember that every member of the family should always wear a PFD regardless of conditions.

Hiking: The good family hike on the island is the Oak Island Nature Trail.  This is a 2.5-mile loop trail around the Oak Island peninsula. The trail is actually a mowed path through the tall grass.  You can stick to the path or wander cross-country through the tall grass fields to a quiet spot on Sturgeon Lake or Steelman Lake - make sure you remember how to get back onto the main path. We haven't been on this trail this year yet but saw a few cars at the trailhead this weekend, so it appears to be accessible.

Beaches: There are actual beaches for sunbathing, sand play, and swimming.  The main beach area, Walton Beach, is accessed via Reeder Road and is about 9 miles from the Sauvie Island Bridge. Please note that there are no lifeguards on duty and the shore line often has sudden drop-offs - 3 feet of water becomes 9 feet or more within a couple of steps. Watch your kids very closely and consider having them wear a PFD when they are in or near the water.

Biking:  The most popular ride is a 12-mile loop around the lower end of the island  - Sauvie Island Road to Reeder Road to Gillihan Loop Road however any mix of routes can be created by consulting a local map. Bikes need to share the road with cars and shoulders aren't especially wide on the island.  Although most drivers in the area expect to encounter bicyclists, be cautious, courteous, and prepared when riding on the roads - speed limits in the area are 30 - 45 mph.

Getting there: From Portland, take route 30 toward St. Helens. Take the Sauvie Island Bridge onto the island and go North on Sauvie Island Rd. Kruger's will be 1 1/2 miles ahead on the right.

To get to Sturgeon Lake or the Nature Hike, continue North on Sauvie Island Road and take a right onto Reeder Road.

Follow Reeder Road and, after a mile or so, take the left fork onto Oak Island Road.  The road will eventually become gravel follow it to the junction at Webster Pond.

To access the Hike continue straight at the junction to the end of the road. To access Sturgeon Lake, take a right at the junction and go around Webster Pond - the road will dead end at the launch for Sturgeon Lake. Don't be afraid to consult a map.

Things to Remember:

  • There are no gas stations on the island. You can fuel up in Linnton on the way to the island.
  • If you are accessing any of the Wildlife Areas you will need a parking permit. These are available at the convenience store just North of the bridge when you get on the island ($3.50 per day or $11 for the calendar year).
  • Food options on the island are limited. There are no real grocery stores, packing snacks and a lunch is recommended.
  • Bathrooms are limited. There are port-a-potties in the wildlife areas  - they are cleaned weekly. Kruger's has bathroom facilities open to the public.

Weekend Warriors: June 9-11

June 08, 2006

Summer fun is here! Have a great weekend....

Kids Cook at the Market - Get the kids started and comfortable making quick and easy dishes. Held at the Farmer's Market (at PSU), "Kids, roll up your sleeves, grab an apron, and have fun learning to cook! Junior chefs ages seven to eleven can cultivate their culinary skills and experience a cornucopia of farm fresh foods by enrolling in Portland Farmers Market’s Kids Cook at the Market program." Classes take place once a month at the Saturday market from 10:00am - 11:30am. Advance registration and payment is required. Cost per student is $15 per class. On the menu this Saturday: Fresh Berry Freezer Jam.

Northwest Organic Brewfest - The northwest organic brew fest is on Saturday, June 10 from noon-9pm at he World forestry Center and they will have "an indoor children’s area and will feature face painting, games and a soda pop garden, and the festival is adjacent to the Children‘s Museum, World Forestry Center, and Oregon Zoo. Music on the outdoor stage will be provided by the Stumptown Jug Thumpers, Baktune, Vivid Curve, Left Hand Monkey Wrench, Adair Village, and Wow and Flutte.

Crafty Wonderland - It's that time of the month again (the second Sunday of the month). Get your craft on and support mama crafties at this month's Crafty Wonderland. Sunday, 11 AM to 4 PM at Doug Fir Lounge. Thanks for the heads up Dishy Duds and Baby Wit; they'll be selling their shtuff at the Brewfest and at Crafty Wonderland.

Rose Festival - The festival continues this weekend. Check out the Concert in the Park (PGE Park) on Friday, Fleet Week through Sunday, the Waterfront Village, Dragon Boat Races... Check out the events calendar for full details.

Kids Weekend at The Neighborhood - Hmm.. Sounds interesting. I read about it on Marlynn's FF Blog: "it's opening weekend on June 10 with a kid's parade at 11:00. Kids are welcome to be in the parade, with costumes, props, whatever they want! Parents can RSVP to sarahd@hbapdx.com for more information. Other events include puppet shows by Kids on the Block and interactive demonstrations by NECA-IBEW on Saturday afternoon, and free blood pressure screenings and chair massages on Sunday the 11th. Radio stations will be on site throughout the weekend at a 'block party' style event offering games and prizes, a Sesame St. coloring contest for show tickets, and kids karaoke with LarryBoy from VeggieTales."

Take 'em out to the ballgame (even babies & toddlers)

June 06, 2006

A great summer activity that I have yet to partake in is a ball game at PGE Park. There's a part of me waiting for the kiddies to get a little bigger, but with this new find, I think all of us with the littler tykes and tots will feel less daunted by taking the little ones to the ball park. Take 'em ALL out to the ballgame - infants and toddlers too! Thank you Anita for this heads up.

I want to share a baby-friendly find I was delighted to discover last weekend. PGE Park has an Infant and Toddler Suite that you can hang out in with your baby for no extra charge when you go to games (we went to a soccer game). They have toys, art supplies, dvds, play mats and a changing station so you can experience the event as well as let your baby have a safe and quieter place to be once the excitement of the stadium wears off. They ask for a 20 minute limit when demand for the suite is high, but it was half full when we were there. I was so happy that my family-friendly evening activities could expand beyond cafes and brewpubs.

Also, I'm wondering if others know of accommodations like this besides the cafes, pubs & theaters that have been discussed here...

Hit the Lakes!

June 05, 2006

Just in time for summer outdoor outings. Thanks Tony of Milagros for sending in this Family Adventure Suggestion

We have always been big fans of the Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area on N Marine Dr in North Portland. Now it is better than ever, boasting a new parking area, improved bike path, fun sculptures, a picnic shelter, improved restroom facilities, and - our favorite - a canoe launch!

Walking: The area has a trail (the interlakes trail) which provides access to viewing blinds for both Smith and Bybee Lakes. The trail is paved and level, perfect for a family stroll. Wildlife we have seen in the area includes turtles, fish, beavers, herons, ducks, snakes, rabbits, countless dragonflies, and much more. The best wildlife viewing is early morning and near dusk but you will always see something any time of day.

Paddling: The quality of paddling in the area depends on the time of year, right now the water level is very high and the paddling is excellent. The lack of motor boats and abundant flora and fauna make this a great paddling experience for kids. However shore access away from the canoe launch is undependable, so make sure all 'potty' needs are met before you get in the boat. There is no significant current in the lakes but paddling on windy days is not recommended. Remember that every member of the family should always wear a PFD regardless of conditions.

Biking: The bike path is part of the 40 mile loop and provides level riding around Smith Lake and all the way to Kelly Point Park. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen! And please respect the 'no dogs' rule for this wildlife area. Here is more info.
Here's a great little write-up on a North Portland Tour, a bike ride that starts and ends at Peninsula Park.

Cycling Playgroup

May 25, 2006

Thanks Jackie for the heads-up on a FUN event:

The Bike Gallery on SE Woodstock (at SE 43rd) hosts a cycling playgroup on the last Friday morning of each month throughout the summer for moms, dads and tots.  Bring your little one, bicycle, and trailer or extra seat to take a short bike ride to the park and for coffee.  Meet at 10 AM.
Join them tomorrow if you can!  The shop manager brings along his 2-year old for the ride.

From farm to Market

May 08, 2006

Several weeks ago, the Portland Farmer's market started back up, offering everything from baked goods, to dairy, to fruits and veggies from area farmers and artisans.  I haven't been able to make it down there yet, but I did notice that "our" farmer's market, AKA the Eastbank Farmer's Market, is due to start on June 1st.  I call this "our" farmer's market because it's just a hop, skip, and jump away from home and it's just so fun for the whole family.  There's food, music, friends, and it's always nice to get out and enjoy a summer evening.  We inevitably run into friends and neighbors there and it's a good meeting place if we want to organize an evening get together.  I love seeing all the wares for sale, and we usually buy not only vegetables, but cheeses, breads, dinner that night (salvador molly's usually) and if Andrew's been good, we might even get some "Chocolate Moo Juice" from the dairy stand.

The best part about "our" farmer's market is that it's just one of MANY area farmer's markets.  From Hillsboro to Troutdale, and Vancouver, WA to Lake Oswego, Portland Area farmer's markets are starting up usually mid-May... so look for one near your neighborhood!  Not only does it encourage your family to eat healthy, but it also helps build communities and encourage your children to learn the importance of community and consuming locally.  Anyone have a favorite farmer's market?

Family Friendly Campgrounds

May 01, 2006

Lucy's wondering what your favorite family- and toddler-friendly campgrounds are:

Does anyone have any favorite Oregon or Washington campgrounds that have particularly interesting terrain for little explorers (we have a three-year old)?  We love Battleground Lake in Washington, but are looking to explore coast or mountain options.  This is the first summer since having our child that we feel ready to have some outdoor overnight adventures!